Power plant

White House preps new requirements for industrial control system security

In the wake of breach into a water treatment plant in Oldmar, Fla., the Biden administration plans to issue an executive order focused on the industrial control systems.

The order will focus on the ICSs that control water, power and chemical systems, according to  Anne Neuberger, the cybersecurity lead on the National Security Council. “We're seeking to have visibility on those networks to detect anomalous cyber behavior and block anomalous cyber behavior," she said at an April 8 online event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Today, we cannot trust those systems because we don't have the visibility," Neuberger said. "And we need the visibility of those systems because of the significant consequences if they fail, or if they're degraded. So that's the threshold of success we seek from a cyber perspective, and there are many efforts that we'll need to do to get there."

Currently, attacks on computer controlled infrastructure are handled in a sector-specific way, with no one entity or agency having an overall view into industry control system cybersecurity.

The administration is expected to issue a separate executive order to leverage the procurement power of the federal government to induce private sector vendors to be more transparent about the security of their software products.

Neuberger said the content of the orders will be "aggressive, but achievable" and allow the government to "fundamentally make progress on issues that we've kicked the can down the road on for a long time."

Neuberger also went into some detail about the persistence of the SolarWinds intrusion, and suggested that the hack wasn't only about spying, but could also support "disruption or degradation as well as intelligence collection."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected